Can You Wash the American Flag?

Whether you display it in front of your home, place of business or elsewhere, your American flag will probably accumulate dirt. Even when flown on a pole several feet off the ground, dirt will still reach it. As a result, you might be wondering whether you can wash the American flag.

Yes, You Can Wash the American Flag!

The U.S. Flag Code doesn’t contain any provisions prohibiting or restricting the cleaning of American flags. It only states that the American flag should be “destroyed in a dignified manner” when it has a reached a condition in which it’s no longer fitting to display. In other words, if your American flag is torn, tattered or otherwise damaged beyond repair, you should dispose of it in a dignified manner, such as burning it during a ceremony. But if your American flag is only dirty, you can revitalize its appearance by washing it. With that said, you should follow a few basic steps to preserve and protect your American flag from damage when washing it.

Check the Fabric

Before washing your American flag, check to see what fabric or fabrics it’s made of. Not all American flags are made of machine-washable fabrics. If your American flag is made of linen, for example, washing may cause it to stretch out. Therefore, you should pay attention to fabric or fabrics of which your American flag is made.

Wash in Cold Water

Assuming your American flag is made of a machine-washable fabric, such as polyester and nylon, you can clean it in the washing machine. Instead of using hot water, though, it’s recommended that you use cold water. Washing your American flag in cold water will protect it from heat, which could otherwise cause it to fade or shrink.

Line Dry

After washing your American flag, hang it on a line to dry. You can do this outdoors by running a line between two trees, or you can do this indoors by hanging your American flag on a shower curtain rod. Regardless, line drying is a safer way to dry the American flag since it doesn’t use heat or a tumbling mechanism.

Dry Cleaning

An alternative to cleaning your American flag in the washing machine is to have it dry cleaned. Dry cleaning involves the use of non-water-based chemicals to clean fabrics. If you’re worried that washing your American flag in the washing machine will damage it, take it to the dry cleaners instead.

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